Breaking down barriers for migrant entrepreneurs 

Article by:  
Melissa Tredinnick  
Content Marketing Intern | ACH Bristol 
On 30th October, over 50 people from a wide range of organisations attended our conference, ‘Unlocking the Entrepreneurial Talent of Refugees’, at the Engine Shed in Bristol. 
 
At this event, we presented our ground-breaking research project, in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME). This research revealed some of the opportunities and challenges facing new migrant entrepreneurs, and made recommendations for supporting them. You can read the full or summarised report here
 
Insights on the topic of refugee entrepreneurship were shared by several speakers, including: 
 
Fuad Mahamed (CEO, Ashley Community Housing) 
Prof. Monder Ram OBE (Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, University of Birmingham) 
Dr Zara Nanu (CEO, Gapsquare) 
Abdi Mohamed (Director/Company Secretary, Ashley Community Housing) 
Cassie Yates (Project Manager, Business West) 
Charlie Fraser (Director, The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network) 
Ed Rowberry (Chief Executive, Bristol & Bath Regional Capital) 
Imran Shah (CEO, Language Services UK Limited) 
Nick Sturge (Director, Engine Shed) 
Sado Jirde (Director, Black South West Network) 
David Jepson (Director, Himilo Training) 
Cllr. Asher Craig (Deputy Mayor, Bristol City Council) 
 
There were also a wide range of questions and comments from audience members, which prompted productive discussions. 
 
Topics included the valuable economic contribution of migrants to the UK, and the mismatch between their aspirations and reality. From the evidence presented, it was clear that while refugee entrepreneurs have the skill and talent to succeed in growing a business, a number of barriers prevent them from meeting their full potential. 
 
Some of these barriers were identified during the conference, and possible solutions were put forward: such as the need to make mainstream business support more accessible and inclusive, and to develop new methods of accessing finance for refugees. Another focus of the discussion was the communication gap between support services and potential service users, and the ways that providers can effectively reach out to refugee and migrant communities. 
 
Councillor Asher Craig closed the conference by emphasising the need for communication between key organisations, and for clear, practical actions going forward. We look forward to playing an active part in this discussion, and working to better facilitate refugees’ entrepreneurial talent in the future. 
 
“Great discussion about building a more inclusive and diverse business ecosystem in Bristol” Zara Nanu, Gapsquare. 
“Firstly, the event was rich and positive. I believe events like this help in highlighting issues that deprive migrants especially from BME background from accessing work or availing existing opportunities. […] I see that we will achieve more in the near future.” Imran Shah, Language Services UK. 
 
You can read the full outcomes report here.  
 
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